I’ve learned a LOT of lessons in building this van. I’ve made a LOT of mistakes and want to help you avoid some of them. If I were to order a new van, I’d get the 140″ hightop. I’d get it in white so that it doesn’t get as hot, and I’d get it without the back windows so that I could have marine awning-style windows that open in the back. I’d still get a lot of the fancy extras because they work really well, but I would NOT get the nav system from Mercedes. The auto-windshield wipers are pure magic and I wish I had them on my car! The auto-diming headlights work amazingly well, and the backup camera and sensors (while you technically don’t need both) are pretty awesome.
Fill the damn weep holes under the molding! You see that plastic molding running the length of your new van on both sides? These LEAK!!! So first things first, do what you need to do to make these not leak. I used Pro Flex RV Clear Sealant by Geocel on the inside. They still leak a little, so we ran a bead along the outside at the top of the molding.
Seal the floor. I originally thought this would be overkill and I was just being paranoid, but when we pulled up the floor, there were already spots of rust – what with the leaking vent and the leaking window. If you’re going to have holes in your van (fan, windows, A/C) or any water source, do this! I went with Armacoat here in Eugene, but it was REALLY stinky for at least a week and I wonder about the off-gassing over time. If I were to do it again, I’d go with Xtreme Coatings in Portland. The Eugene Armacoat dealer happens to be the company headquarters and they did do a really good job – it looks great. They also tried to charge several hundred dollars more than they quoted when I picked it up.
Install windows and powered fan. I like the CR Laurence T-Vent windows because I’m in the rainy NW and want to be able to have windows open whenever. I also prefer the Maxxair for the same reasons in the fan department. For rear windows, I’d recommend going with a marine window. It won’t be a perfect factory look, but they will open and will seal up nice and tight.
Plan out your electric. Figure out what your electric requirements will be. Run all your wiring.
Insulate. I really really really (REALLY!) like the Thinsulate for the walls and ceiling. It is so easy to work with. Get yourself a large quilting rotary mat, ruler, and rotary cutter for working with this (Joann’s, or support your local quilt shop). It will save you tons of time. I really like the minicell for the floor. I’m very happy with the insulation! I got some sound deadening, but when I compared where I had stuck it vs where I just had the Thinsulate, I couldn’t tell a difference. So I’d skip that.
Now your Sprinter is ready for all your awesome build-out ideas!